Religion in International Politics and Development
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Religion in International Politics and Development

The World Bank and Faith Institutions

John A. Rees

This unique and fascinating book illustrates that in moving the research agenda forward – despite whatever methodological pitfalls that may await in the attempt – the dynamics of religion must now be considered to be of central and abiding importance in the study of world politics.
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Chapter 5: Analyzing World Bank Faith and Development Partnerships

John A. Rees


Development is not something which is done for people, or even with people, by involving them in projects designed by someone else. Michael Taylor (2005, p. 133) Archbishop Martin’s definition of development – as a realisation of everyone’s God-given potential – resonates, and it is what many of us at the World Bank believe. Jean-Louis Sarbib (Marshall and Keough, 2005, p. 112) Having considered the dynamics of religion at the discourse and institutional levels, the dynamics of religion model is applied to describe and critically analyze policy partnerships between the WBG and faith institutions that emerged in the period 1998–2005. This time frame stems directly from the meetings on faith and development that occurred at the beginning of Wolfensohn’s presidency and culminates in the final year of his tenure. The study initially compares WBG partnerships with three faith institutions – the Fes Festival of Sacred Music, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Community of Sant’Egidio. 5.1 ENGAGING RELIGION AND DEVELOPMENT AT THE POLICY LEVEL In the previous chapter I examined secular, integrated and sacral dynamics of religion that opened the institutional spaces of the WBG to a possible policy engagement with religious actors. An important observation to draw from these factors is the emergence, not simply of religious actors in the spaces of development (for they have long-existed in such spaces) but of a faith-based development sector (Clarke and Jennings, 2008a) that prominent IFIs including the WBG could no longer ignore. As a WBG assessment acknowledged, ‘.  .  . religion is a central...

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